Startup Cost for New Menard Co. Fire Dept.: Roughly $500k
Startup Cost for New Menard Co. Fire Dept.: Roughly $500k

The head of a fire protection district covering rural Menard County thinks it could be ten years before it realizes any savings after breaking off from the city of Petersburg.

David Lieschner, head of the Petersburg Community Fire Protection District, estimates it’s costing about $500,000 to start up a brand new fire department — deemed necessary because Petersburg officials wouldn’t negotiate increased costs for fire protection.

“I don’t believe him, why should I believe him,” Lieschner said of Petersburg Mayor John Stiltz, who conversely claimed it was the fire protection district that wouldn’t compromise or negotiate. “At the very least, it’s an American thing to sit down and negotiate and compromise. He did none of that.”

The department’s formation generated controversy after the fire protection district bought a building for three times its appraised value plus new equipment.

Lieschner contends the city of Petersburg isn’t being prudent with taxpayer dollars.

“It’s costing us half a million dollars to start the fire department, they’ve put $700,000 into a firehouse that’s in a flood plain,” he says. “I think that we did pretty well to do it on $500,000.”

Lieschner bases his estimate of a ten year saving realization based on how much Petersburg tried to raise rates in the latest contract “negotiations,” but he says there’s no telling how much rates could have increased.

The Petersburg Community Fire Protection District covers portions of rural Menard and Cass Counties.